June 13, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC--The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies approved $390 million for the Legal Services Corporation's (LSC) FY 2009 budget yesterday, a $40 million, or 11 percent, increase over current funding levels. The subcommittee is led by Chairman Alan Mollohan, D-W. Va., and Ranking Member Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., both staunch supporters of legal aid in their home states and for all low-income Americans.
The decision to recommend this substantial increase comes two months after LSC President Helaine M. Barnett and Board Chairman Frank B. Strickland testified before the subcommittee on the crucial need to close America's justice gap by increasing federal funding for civil legal aid programs. According to LSC's groundbreaking 2005 report, Documenting the Justice Gap in America--The Current Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans, chronic funding shortages force LSC's grantees to turn away 50 percent of eligible low-income Americans seeking their assistance. Since then, numerous statewide legal needs studies have found that LSC's report vastly underestimates the unmet civil legal needs of poor Americans.
Clients of LSC-funded programs include families facing homelessness due to eviction or foreclosure, women trapped in the cycle of domestic abuse, and senior citizens victimized by predatory lenders.
"Our low-income clients and those who seek to become our clients confront the justice gap every day," said LSC President Helaine M. Barnett. "They are the ones for whom we must close the gap, one eligible person, one family, one opportunity at a time. On their behalf, I would like to thank Chairman Mollohan, Ranking Member Frelinghuysen, and all the subcommittee members for taking this critical next step."
LSC is an independent, non-profit Corporation created by Congress in 1974 to promote equal access to justice and to provide high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income Americans. The Corporation gives grants to independent, local programs--in 2008, 137 programs with more than 900 offices nationwide.